Family Planning as a PhD Mom

Here’s a secret… I had been planning to start trying to make baby #2 in the first week of January. I had kept it from the blog. We had been updating our donor contract, gotten our donor on board, I’d been collecting syringes from the pharmacy, and taking a prenatal vitamin. But then my PhD progress threw a wrench in the works.

I finally got my dissertation data last week, and it was not all that I hoped it would be. It was OK, but not enough to constitute a dissertation. So, my advisory committee and I decided that I needed a second study. A new study, a new ethics application, another 400 people recruited, another big batch of data collected, and a whole new story to write up about it. My original plan was to be finished writing in spring, and defend early summer. My new plan is to finish writing in summer, and defend in fall. So conceiving in January would mean I could be defending my dissertation with a fresh baby on my boob – no thanks!

The new plan is to start trying to conceive in MAYBE March, skip April (we’re too busy in December to have a December baby), and resume in May. I’m bummed out for many reasons…

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“I have two moms!”

For the last few months Avery has been sounding pretty proud of the fact that she has two moms. She shouts it out when we read books with a dad in them, or when we’re talking about her cousins and their parents, or randomly from the back of the car or while falling asleep at night: “Avery has two moms!”

She also talks about how her family looks different from others. She’ll say, “mommy has one mom.” And “Mo has one dad.” And her train of thought always concludes with another very proud sounding proclamation that she has two moms.

I love it.

Past my bedtime

We went to my wife’s work holiday party on the weekend. My mom babysat. The dinner was amazing, and it was nice to get dressed up for a change. But by 9:30, I was ready to go home and cuddle in bed watching Netflix. When the music started for the dance, I could no longer hear any of the conversations going on around me. I sat there like a lump on a log, watching the time tick by, dreaming of my comfy bed, and trying not to dwell on what time I’d be woken up in the morning, or how many times I’d be needed through the night. By 10:30 I was grumpy. Our ride was being chivalrous and not pressuring his other “fares” to wrap it up for the night. My wife sat with me but didn’t want to say anything to our ride, and didn’t want to offend him by calling a cab.

So there we sat, watching people dance, looking like the grumpy, party pooper uncles at a wedding.

Finally, by 11:45, we got our lift home. I hate being such a party scrooge, but I really just love quiet, intimate events that end before my bedtime. Am I a 90 year old trapped in a 32 year old’s body? Maybe.

On the plus side, Avery only woke once in the night, and slept in until EIGHT FUCKING THIRTY. She has never slept that late. Thank you, wonderful child.

“mommy’s my favourite” and anyone else is chopped liver

Sometimes I wish I could be straight JUST because it would be easy to fall back on gender roles to explain away inequities in my relationship. The big issue right now is my wife being second favourite to our daughter. Actually, third favourite – she says “mommy’s my favourite, Albus [the cat] is my favourite buddy.” My wife has been met with avoidant behaviour from our daughter the last month or so. She gets home from work and Avery cringes and hits her if she goes in for a hug, and becomes INSANELY clingy to me. It’s really hard, and really sad. Can’t imagine how hard and sad it is for my wife.

But in hetero relationships, we’ve heard that it’s common for the kids to want nothing to do with the dads for a good long time. It’s easy when it’s a matter of moms versus dads. Women are so often primary caregivers, and men are socialized to not care if their kids go to their mother for every booboo and request. It’s what’s normal.

I think what’s happening with my wife and daughter IS normal, to an extent, but it’s hard to see it that way when our daughter wants one mom so much more than the other mom. We’re both moms – but our roles are as different as any opposite-sex couple out there.

Our daughter’s diblings (donor siblings)

We had our donor’s family over for dinner recently. Their two kids are 8 years and 18 months, and Avery has a budding friendship with both of them; especially the older one, who seriously loves Avery (seriously – she says it all the time, and hugs the daylights out of her, and it’s the sweetest thing ever).

We feel so incredibly lucky to have this positive relationship with our donor and his whole family. Although we’ve decided to have another baby so that Avery will have an actual sibling, it’s feels good to know she has other kids out there her age who she can be connected to in a special way. It’s different from a friendship, and it’s definitely not a sibling relationship. It’s just a unique relationship that not all kids get to experience.

Tis’ the season for sickness

I have been waiting for months to get my data for my dissertation. It finally arrived on Sunday night. On Monday morning Avery woke up way too sick to go to daycare. I did what little work I could while caring for a sick child, but it wasn’t the productive day I’d been so excited for. And now, on Tuesday, Avery’s well enough to go to daycare, but I’m sick. My head is a little foggy for the detailed stats I want to be doing…

#momlife.

Fertility tracking

I have re-downloaded Fertility Friend, the ovulation charting app that helped us to inseminate efficiently the first time. I tried taking my temperature this morning for fertility tracking, but the battery was dead in my basal thermometer. I’m surprised I even kept it after we made one baby and deciding we were one-and-done. I bought a new battery and plan to start charting temps asap, but it’s very different this time around. In case you haven’t used temperature charting before, the rules are simple but tough to follow: take your temp IMMEDIATELY upon waking, at the same time every day, and put your daily temp on a graph to watch for the rise in temperature associated with ovulating. These days, I sometimes wake up in my bed, sometimes in Avery’s, sometimes at 5am, sometimes at 7am, and I’m up through the night, too. I don’t think I can depend on just temping.

So today I bought the digital ovulation monitor that I used last time for our actual inseminations. It’s a $50 device that comes with 10 ovulation tests, and it’s another $40 to get all the refill test strips I would hopefully need throughout our next round of TTC. It’s expensive, but what I like about it is that it distinguishes between the days leading up to ovulation and the actual day before ovulation (when the lutenizing hormone peaks). It’s really, really handy for the at home inseminating families who don’t have ultrasounds or meds to guide them. When I got the hang it of it last time, I was able to give our donor several days notice for the upcoming ovulation/insemination. And it’s better than temping for me these days, with the #momlife that I wasn’t living last time we conceived.

So that’s where we are with TTC right now. We’re tracking my cycles, and planning a get-together with our donor and his wife for early in the new year to talk about it. We hang out with them a lot, but always with kids in tow, which doesn’t give us the space to talk about making babies… This time we’re coordinating a childless double date, and I’m excited for multiple reasons!